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15 August 2017

Homeward Bound Initiative Looks Set to Break Own Record as 80 Women Head to Antarctica

Back in December of 2016 we reported on the Homeward Bound Initiative, an Australian programme created with the intention of “heighten[ing] the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet”, as stated on their official website.

The women of the Homeward Bound expedition in 2016   - Img: Homeward Bound/Songqiao Yao
Launching in 2016, the initiative’s first year-long programme brought together 76 women from a potential pool of 1,000 targeted individuals and culminated in the largest ever all-women Antarctic expedition; now, the organisation look set to break their own record.

The year-long leadership programme for 2017 is already firmly underway, and brings together 80 women from 14 countries; namely the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy, Norway, Venezuela, Colombia, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and China. In February of next year this extraordinary group of women will embark upon a three-week-long expedition to the icy waters of Antarctica, beating the 2016 record by just 4 participants.

One such participant is Maddie Brasier, a PhD student at the University of Liverpool and Natural History Museum in London who has collaborated with the British Antarctic Survey on expeditions and research projects in the past. Speaking to Cambridge News, she offered a little more insight into what the trip will involve.

Ms Brasier told the publication, “We are sailing from Argentina and will be heading down to the western region of Antarctica. There will be a conference on board the ship to find out what the other scientists are doing around the world.

“We will also have several landings on sites of scientific importance in Antarctica. Most of the women on the ship won't have been to Antarctica before.

“For me the challenge is going to be learning more about myself and meeting all those amazing women without being intimidated.”

As the expedition is self-funded, with the majority of participants being expected to pay for their own travel and accommodation aboard the boat (10 of the 80 women will be funded by scholarship grants), Ms Brasier has combined forces with fellow participants Cathy Sorbara and Hannah Laeverenz Schlogelhofer to host a fundraising event which they have called “An Evening of Empowering Women”. Taking place at Gonville & Caius College on Friday 13th October, the event will feature talks from inspiring women about their journeys, an open discussion on the challenges facing women leaders, a keynote address about Homeward Bound‘s vision, a silent auction, and a tribute to the first voyagers to Antarctica.

More information on the event can be found on the official website.

For those in a relevant field who may be interested in getting involved in next year’s programme, Homeward Bound will be opening up applications from Friday 18th August through to Friday 15th September. Again the programme will consist of a year-long leadership programme and end with an expedition to Antarctica in early 2019. It will be interesting to see if they continue to break records year-on-year.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for the written word. Currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor, his time at many UK festivals has taught him the importance of keeping warm.